There are many ways of making sure that your holiday home gives you a great ROI. Here are our 10 tips on what to to do to ensure your holiday home is profitable.
This is always a difficult one as every home owner is different.
Some run their holiday home on a purely commercial basis, whilst others may want some personal use from their holiday let, as it is a second home and a place for the family to use. Our first tip is based on trying to maximise income.
First, work out what you are trying to realistically achieve in the way of revenue potential. For example, we have always worked on a general rule of thumb that a holiday let can generate between £15,000-£20,000 per double bedroom per annum. Also note we operate in the Cotswolds, so our most recent experience is in this area. Your revenue potential will depend on a number of factors such as the exact location, the building itself, any unique features, the interiors, plus things like strong WiFi, garden, hot tub, coffee machine etc. (more of that later), but let’s start with raw revenue.
So, based on the estimates above let’s take a 3 bedroom property which might gross between £45,000-£60,000 per annum. First question we would ask is: are you limited to that revenue? Could you add another bedroom through planning? Or, could you utilise a downstairs room as an additional bedroom? Just by doing that, it could add another £15,000-£20,000 to your overall income, although remember in an ideal world, each bedroom should have its own bathroom, worst case, one bathroom per two bedrooms (Visit England star rating is based on one bathroom per two bedrooms). Remember also that VAT will kick in at £85,000 so your strategy should include that for properties with 5+ bedrooms. We would be more than happy to give you a revenue appraisal just contact us.
Once you have worked out your estimated revenue, you should look closely at how you are going to run it (operational strategy, next point), how much it is going to cost you and from there, you should be able produce a business plan and potential profit.
2. Operational Strategy and Cost
You have two basic choices:
A) Manage it yourself.
B) Employ an agent.
If you “Manage it yourself” there are three areas to consider:
Website build, advertising on OTA’s like AirBNB, doing photos, a virtual tour and floor plans, marketing emails, social media management, advertising, customer journey communications.
B) Admin and Guest Management:
Price setting, booking form, guest queries, revenue collection, welcome letters, financial management/cashflow, monthly statements and reporting.
C) House-keeping & Maintenance:
Cleaning, laundry, linen/towel purchases, property maintenance, guest liaison/communication/follow up.
A holiday letting agency will often cover 1. and 2. on a commission basis and ask you to look after or organise the house-keeping and maintenance side of things. At StayCotswold we will recommend house-keeping and/or maintenance companies to you, whereupon you would strike up a direct relationship with them.
You will need to first decide how much time you have! If you pick the “manage it yourself” option, be warned that the managing a holiday let requires a great deal of time and commitment and also be aware that there may be a cost related to time lost, as it may take you more time to get going. An agent, from the point of signing a contract, should be able to get you photographed, listed, marketed and bookings coming in within 2-3 weeks. It may take you a few months to get going.
Once you have decided, you should have an idea of income and cost and therefore profit. So you are now ready…..or are you? What is going to make you stand out from all the other holiday homes in the Cotswolds?
3. Marketing: Website, Photos, Virtual Tour, Floorplan, Copy
The window to the holiday letting world is online. Whether that’s through your own or your agent’s website, or Google, social media, through online travel agencies (OTA’s), strategic partners and tourist boards……as a result your images and your property write up is extremely important. Why should guests choose you over another property? The property should be dressed for photos and it needs to be photographed by a professional. People also like to see a 3D tour, and a floor-plan so that they can choose the downstairs bedroom for Granny and Grandpa or make sure that the lead booker gets the best room!
4. Fixtures and Fittings
Make sure you have thought through the design….think about wear and tear, think easy to clean, think robust, think easy to switch on and off!
Cookers, showers, kettles, fridges, everything….think easy to use! Make sure beds are super comfortable! If your guests don’t sleep well because the mattress is uncomfortable, they will be sure to let you know both personally and via online reviews. If you are including two pillows per person, include a slim pillow as well as a regular pillow, some people like a flatter pillow, and yes it sounds crazy but guests really notice these kind of little touches.
Also, think cleaning, is it easy to clean the showers, the kitchen floor, are you allowing pets at your holiday home? If so think stone or wood flooring downstairs and not any carpet, maybe go for rugs!
5. Coffee machine
Yes, we have indeed become a coffee nation, we love a “cap” or a “skinny” or whatever, there is nothing quite as comforting as arriving at a holiday home and seeing the Nespresso in the corner!! Anyone for a coffee? Don’t forget to leave a starter pack of complimentary capsules……it’s always the little things!
6. WiFi, TV, SONOS, wireless speaker, DAB radio, spare iPhone chargers
Simply put, make sure you get the fastest broadband installed. Most families watch movies, do their social media across multiple platforms and then of course there are those that never stop working, even when they are on holiday. Make sure the WiFi is robust, there is nothing worse than that Friday night call to say the WiFi doesn’t work, or where is the password, or I can’t switch on the TV! So, make sure that your instructions are super clear. And a spare iPhone charger is a nice touch (remember to wrap it with a “Don’t remove from the property!”)
Don’t forget to buy a good solid outdoor table that your guests can sit out, enjoy a glass of wine, a BBQ, sat on comfy chairs under a parasol…..You get the picture! Spend some time (and money) on making sure that the garden is gorgeous (nothing quite lets a property down when you go outside and the grass hasn’t been cut, the weeds are up and it is generally unkempt. Perhaps invest in a hot tub, would you believe it, the second most googled term when it comes to holiday cottages!
There is nothing worse than not being able to park so do what you can to make sure that your property has a parking place, and if you can’t do that provide very clear and helpful instructions on where to park. In these days of ever-increasing numbers of electric vehicles, an EV charging point is often very welcome! It might make the difference to Mr and Mrs Tesla as to whether they book your property or the property down the road with an EV point.
Please do not let your property if it is not compliant. Your property should be insured specifically for holiday lets and there are specialist insurers out there, like NFU, and you must be up to date with all the electrical, gas safety and boiler safe certificates. Also you are legally required to have a fire risk assessment in place. You can find it all online or we will advise you on your current legal responsibilities.
10. Welcome Pack/Gift
Finally, last but not least, how about a friendly touch on arrival! A well thought through welcome pack or a thoughtful gift. It could be as simple as a bag of the local fudge to a bottle of champagne (because you have done your homework and the guests are coming to celebrate an anniversary!)…and why not a postcard with a written and personal welcome to your cottage, hope you have a great stay and don’t forget to leave us a lovely review! Or email them afterwards to say thanks for leaving your property so tidy and would they mind leaving a review….remember that these days reviews are a key driver for bookings.
They are our 10 tips, so all that remains for us to say is “Good Luck!” and if you need any help or advice be sure to contact StayCotswold on 01993 259 444 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.